Pastor David Castner and family in the KP Lutheran churchyard with members of his congregation. Left to right: Timarie Castner, David Castner, Liam Castner, Kay Pinter, Beverly Trent. Photo by Karen Lovett, KP News

With the resignation of the previous pastor of the Key Peninsula Lutheran Church, the church council moved quickly to find a replacement. David Castner has been there since August. The congregation voted to offer him the permanent position in April and he was officially installed in May.

Installation entails the new pastor pledging to serve the church in the name of God and the church promising to help him to serve God.

“There are 93 Lutheran churches in our area of Washington with one bishop,” church office manager Julie Johnson said. “We have our own church council. The call committee of five members plus synod and the bishop put out the profile. The person applies to synod.” (A synod is a group of ecclesiastic delegates.)

“The process committee did an evaluation of what we were looking for,” church council president Elsie Vezzani said. “The call committee read resumes and interviewed candidates.”

“I had sent an extensive resume with detailed profiling to the bishop and synod,” Castner said. “Key Peninsula Lutheran Church requested a substitute pastor and they were given my name. They liked me and asked me to be their interim pastor.”

Castner is originally from Montana, where his dad worked in mining. The family later moved to Arizona, but he returned to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. As something of a reverse snowbird, he worked summers in Arizona as a mining laborer and heavy equipment operator.

“After earning a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, I moved to Globe, Arizona,” Castner said, where he met his future wife, Timarie. Tired of working in the mining industry, in 2000 they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Castner attended Luther Seminary. “My third year, I served as a pastor intern at Riverton, Wyoming,” he said, “then a year in Colorado for another year of internship.”

Castner earned a master’s of divinity in 2005 and moved to Endicott, Washington. “Trinity Lutheran there was the first church where I was full pastor,” Castner said. “It was very rural, 200 people. I was there until 2007.”

His life took a dramatic turn in 2007 when a car accident left him paralyzed and he spent three and a half months in the hospital. Now in a wheelchair, he wondered what God had planned for him.

“My wife works for State Farm Insurance,” Castner said. “She was offered a position in Tacoma. It was my turn to follow her. I was filling in [through] pastor’s Pulpit Supply.” Then he got the call to come to the Key Peninsula.

“It is probably one of the healthiest churches I’ve ever been associated with,” Castner said. “This place fits me to a tee.”

“From the minute we showed up, we felt like family,” Timarie Castner said. “It’s easy to be nice to nice people.”

“We seem to have a different atmosphere now, more joyful,” Vezzani said. “He has wonderful ideas to keep us going in the right direction. He is very special and has empathy for everyone.”

Beverly Trent has been a member of the church for at least 30 years. “He is very friendly and outgoing and has such a wonderful smile,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of good pastors, but he’s top notch.”

“He really gets down to the meat and potatoes of everything in his sermons,” parishioner Annita Henderson said. “His wife and son are really nice. We love him and want to keep him.”

“We are living between Tacoma and Puyallup,” Castner said. “We like the school system better on the Key Peninsula and would like to move closer to the church, but have not yet found a place within our price range that accommodates my special needs.”

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